NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Kyrie Irving meeting: I have ‘no doubt that he’s not antisemitic’

NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke about his meeting with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving for the first time Thursday. Though Silver didn’t elaborate much on their meeting — which came earlier this week after the Nets suspended Irving for sharing an antisemitic film on social media — he said he doesn’t think Irving is actually antisemitic.

“It’s something I’ve been very involved in. It’s obviously an incredibly unfortunate situation,” Silver said, via The New York Times' Sopan Dep. “It’s not a secret. I met with Kyrie earlier this week.

“I personally, based on what he said directly to me, have no doubt that he’s not antisemitic, but I think there’s a process that he’s going to now need to go through. I think he understands that and incidentally, it’s now with the Nets who are working with specifics.”

Irving was suspended earlier this month for at least five games after he endorsed an antisemitic film on social media. Irving then refused to either apologize or condemn antisemitism, all while reportedly ignoring messages from Nets owner Joe Tsai.

Irving eventually apologized on Instagram after his suspension.

Nike has suspended its deal with him.

Silver said that the Nets will decide when Irving can return "in consultation with the league." The franchise has reportedly given Irving several steps to complete before he can return, including:

  • Issue a verbal apology and condemn the antisemitic film he shared

  • Share that apology on social media

  • Complete sensitivity trainings

  • Meet with Jewish leaders in the Brooklyn community

  • Meet with Tsai

  • Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes

Not everyone seems happy with those requirements, including fellow NBPA vice president Jaylen Brown and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

James defended Irving, his former teammate, on Twitter on Thursday.

“I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information. And I’ll continue to be that way, but Kyrie apologized and he should be allowed to play,” James wrote. “That’s what I think. It’s that simple. Help him learn — but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor is excessive IMO. He’s not the person that's being portrayed of him.”

As for whether Silver is comfortable with those terms, he said it's "being discussed at this time."

"I think that what I understand where things stand is the Nets are looking to make this into a partnership between them and Kyrie as to what remediation is appropriate," Silver said. "Because what is most important here is that the remorse be truly authentic and genuine. And I think that will best come by conditions that are agreed to upon as opposed to imposed on him."

Adam Silver met with Kyrie Irving earlier this week amid his suspension.
Adam Silver met with Kyrie Irving earlier this week amid his suspension. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) (Dustin Satloff via Getty Images)